Beauty and the Beast Sets Box Office On Fire
By John Hamann
March 19, 2017
Wow. We knew Disney's Beauty and the Beast was going to be big, but this debut is stronger than anyone expected. This is $170 million big, the seventh biggest weekend ever.
On the heels of the huge Logan and decent Kong: Skull Island comes Disney's much anticipated Beauty and the Beast, the live action re-imagining of the animated Disney film. It had the place all to itself this weekend - Logan has faded since opening, and Kong: Skull Island wasn't going to mess with the Beauty and the Beast demographic. The only true kid-friendly competition is The LEGO Batman Movie, but it was in its sixth weekend and only earned $7.4 million last weekend. The other thing working in Beauty's favor was all the in-theater marketing that would have occurred over the last four weekends, ever since Get Out woke up the box office with a $33.4 million opening. In-theater marketing is not just trailers, it is the stand-ups and posters that litter cinemas, creating awareness for upcoming films. Disney positioned Beauty perfectly date-wise, and they are reaping the rewards.
We knew Disney had something very big on its hands on Friday morning when Thursday preview grosses were announced. Beauty and the Beast managed to pull in a crazy $16.3 million from previews alone. If we look at a film like The Jungle Book, which opened to $103 million, the Thursday comparison is brutal, with Jungle Book earning $4.2 million on Thursday preview night. For a Thursday preview, Beauty was running with the likes of The Hunger Games ($19.7 million preview), was right on target with Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and just behind The Dark Knight's $18.5 million. Now, I should say that over the years, the Thursday preview has turned more into opening night, as Beauty started at 7 p.m. (with specialty theaters at 6 p.m.), whereas The Dark Knight actually started its screenings at midnight. Regardless, a $16.5 million Thursday puts all other Disney films to shame (but not Marvel Disney), with it challenging the combined Thursday/Friday of films like Cinderella ($23 million Thursday/Friday), Oz the Great and Powerful ($24 million opening day) and Maleficent ($24.3 million opening day). Beauty was set to break out. The question how big would the movie be? Was the DC Comics March record of $166 million – picked up by Batman v Superman one year ago - already in trouble?
The good news for Beauty and the Beast is that it did not stop or even slow following Thursday night. The Disney release became the 20th biggest opening day of all time, earning $63.8 million, the single biggest day for a film aimed at kids and for a musical. It also beat all of Emma Watson's Harry Potter films save for the last one, and Deathly Hallows Part 2 debuted to $91.1 million on opening day, but a massive $43.5 million came from the Thursday preview. The opening day was bigger than Deathly Hallows Part 1 ($61.7 million opening day), way bigger than Finding Dory ($54.7 million debut day) and Minions ($46 million). The opening day it couldn't beat was Batman v Superman, which fired up $81.6 million on Friday thanks to $27.7 million from Thursday previews. After Friday, though, the DC Comics mistake fell 38% on Saturday to $50.7 million, and then fell another 33% to $33.8 million. Would Beauty and the Beast experience the same trajectory? No way.